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Ancient Order of United Workmen
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Dates of existence
The Ancient Order of United Workmen began in the United States in 1868 and was the first fraternal benefit society to offer financial insurance to its members. Providing insurance for workingmen during the 1860s was a novel idea, but the A.O.U.W believed that its fraternal structure and its low overhead costs made it more likely to succeed compared to commercial life insurance firms that often went bankrupt. Working class men had to apply for membership and if accepted, had to pay a $1.00 initiation fee. When a member died, his dependents would receive a $2,000 payout. After the death of a member, each remaining member in the association would be required to pay another $1.00 to replenish the fund. The popularity of the association resulted in many branches being established throughout the United States and even in Canada. The Grand Lodge of Ontario A.O.U.W. chapter was established in 1880 and had 226 lodges in the province, including the Hamilton Lodge No.49, which was established that same year with 500 initial members. The Hamilton Lodge was similar to the parent association in that it was a fraternal benevolent organization providing social and financial support to its members and their dependents by visiting the sick, assisting the poor, and caring for the orphans and widows of deceased members. The association also promoted the establishment of libraries and reading rooms to further education and learning, as well as advocated for apprenticeship opportunities. The association was incorporated by the Ancient Order of Independent Foresters in 1926.
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“The Men of Gore: Brilliant Celebration of the Anniversary of Gore Lodge, A.O.U.W.” Times, September 23, 1884.
Ancient Order of United Workmen: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Order_of_United_Workmen (January 17, 2023).